By: News Desk
Last Updated: December 27, 2022, 22:39 IST
New Delhi, India
Covid News Updates: Several hospitals across the country on Tuesday held mock drills to check the preparedness of health facilities to deal with any spurt in Covid-19 cases. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said it was important to gauge the operational readiness of equipment and human resources. He oversaw the drill at the Centre-run Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, while health ministers reviewed the drill in their respective states. The Centre has asked states and union territories to conduct the drill as part of precautionary measures following an increase in coronavirus cases in China and other Read More
A six-year-old daughter and her mother, who arrived in Madurai from China via Sri Lanka, have been confirmed to Covid-19 positive.” We have isolated both of them. Their Covid sample has been sent to the lab for further testing,” news agency ANI quoted Madurai District Collector as saying.
Amid a surge in coronavirus infections in several countries, India has stepped up its effort to deal with any spurt in cases and advised people to take all doses of vaccine, including booster dose, in a bid to get stronger protection from Covid-19. In view of this, Bharat Biotech’s intranasal vaccine iNCOVACC was on Tuesday made available on the Cowin portal. The needle-free vaccine is priced at Rs 800 (excluding GST) for private markets and Rs 325 (excluding GST) for government supplies. A press release from Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited said the jab will be rolled out in the fourth week of January 2023. Read More
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Japan will tighten border controls against Covid-19 by requiring tests for all visitors from China starting Friday as a temporary emergency measure against the surging infections there. According to Associated Press, the announcement comes days after the World Health Organization said it was very concerned about rising reports of severe cases across China after the country largely abandoned its “zero-Covid” policy. The quantitative antigen test that is already conducted on entrants suspected of having Covid-19 will be mandatory for all people arriving from mainland China. Those who test positive will be quarantined for seven days at designated facilities and their samples will be used for genome analysis. The measure begins Friday, just as Japan heads into year-end and New Year’s holidays marked by parties and travel, when infections are expected to rise.
The Congress has charged that the government was using Covid as an excuse to stop the Bharat Jodo Yatra as the long march spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi was gaining momentum every passing day. “We are very much concerned about the health of the people of this country and the Covid situation as well. This entire drama (of Covid spread) is created to stop the Bharat Jodo Yatra,” AICC general secretary KC Venugopal told reporters. Venugopal said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was attending public meetings and flights were coming in even from China. “Flights are coming from China, there is no problem. There is no national level (Covid) protocol suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The PM is attending public meetings and all other government programmes are happening everywhere… there is no problem,” he said, adding why was the government only writing letter to Rahul Gandhi while other programmes are going on without any fuss. “There is a ‘mela’ going on Gujarat, there is no problem with that. We will follow the protocol – recommended by the experts — when it is issued by the government,” he said.
To assess Kerala’s preparedness to appropriately deal with another outbreak, if any, of Covid-19, a mock drill was held at the Kozhikode Medical College on Tuesday. A DMO source confirmed that the mock drill was held at the college. An official of the medical college told the media that it was equipped to deal with an outbreak and has kept around 20 ventilator-cum-ICU beds ready. As part of the drill, the doctors and nursing staff — who were participating in it — dressed in PPE kits showed how they would deal with patients right from where they are loaded onto stretchers and then taken inside the hospital. During the drill, a patient was completely covered up and provided oxygen support right after being taken out of the ambulance and then wheeled into the hospital.
Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian, who oversaw a mock drill at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai on Tuesday, said the state had a sufficient stock of medicines, beds, equipment and oxygen to tackle any spike in Covid-19 cases. Also, district-level health officials have been told to inspect the facilities to assess the preparedness and submit a report to the health department soon, he said. Reiterating that the state machinery is fully prepared to face another wave of the pandemic, Subramanian told reporters at the RGGGH that Tamil Nadu has six months’ stock of medicine, 1,954 million tonne oxygen, besides 1,75,291 beds at all the government and private hospitals across the state.
Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia visits Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital to review Covid Mock drill. pic.twitter.com/pqD48csBQ5
— ANI (@ANI) December 27, 2022
Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, the Embassy of Japan in Beijing has said that many employees of Japanese firms operating in China are getting infected with COVID-19 and are being asked to work from home, NHK World reported.
Plants are also functioning with lower capacities in China. Speaking to NHK, Yoshikawa Akinobu, head of the Japan External Trade Organization’s office in Qingdao, said that COVID-19 began spreading quickly around December 16.
According to Yoshikawa, there are Japanese firms where 30-40 per cent of the workforce has tested COVID-19 positive. Here production capacities have been reduced by nearly half. However, the companies continue to make efforts to maintain operations with workers, according to NHK World.
A demand for domestic air travel and hotel bookings which has increased more than pre-Covid times has given a great sense of relief to the domestic tourism sector as the demand for these services has now crossed the pre-pandemic-period. On December 26, around 4,23,000 domestic passengers travelled in the country that breached the pre-Covid high of 4,20,000. On December 24, the number of domestic travellers who took to flight was 4,35,500.
Experts in the tourism industry said that the surge in domestic travel had been witnessed because of various restrictions and procedures on international travel as many countries are still coping with Covid.
Vipul Prakash, Chief Operating Officer, MakeMyTrip, said, “Domestic leisure traffic has recovered more than 100 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and remains strong. We are observing solid trends for the upcoming new year-end weekend. Goa, Jaipur, Shimla, Udaipur, and Manali lead the pack of the most booked destinations on the platform. We have also observed a robust uptick for Wayanad, Mysore, Ooty, Coorg, Gangtok, Dehradun, Agra, Dharamshala, and Darjeeling. Further, people are opting for longer duration stays in premium properties, indicating a higher propensity to spend as they seek luxury-led experiences.”
China’s sudden Covid-19 outbreaks “demonstrate a lack of effectiveness of its vaccines”, prompting global concerns, particularly in nations where Beijing’s vaccines have been accepted, Tibet Press reported.
Turkish government which initially accepted Chinese vaccines is now scrutinising its efficacy after learning of China’s involvement in data tempering of side effects only to enhance its vaccine sale, as per the news report. In December 2020, Indonesia and Brazil initially reported 97 per cent and 78 per cent efficacy in Chinese vaccines.
In 2021, Indonesia and Brazil reduced the efficacy to 65 per cent and 50.4 per cent. Both nations raised concerns over the major side effects of COVID vaccine. After the resurgence of Covid-19 cases and deaths, Thailand and Singapore stopped the use of Chinese vaccines and began using vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Pfizer, according to Tibet Press.
In view of the fresh COVID-19 scare, the West Bengal government has decided to keep a dedicated Corona-unit ready in two hospitals of each district as an immediate measure.
Although a section of the medical fraternity feels the necessity of keeping one hospital dedicated for Covid at least in Kolkata and its adjacent districts, the state health department officials feel that any step on this count might depend on the seriousness of the outbreak in the days to come.
Hence, for the time being, it has been decided to have dedicated Covid units in two hospitals in each of the 23 districts so that the entire state is adequately covered under the immediate precautionary measures.
According to the state director of health situation, S. Niyogi, since the situation in West Bengal as on date is under control, there is no necessity for dedicated an entire hospital for Covid patients. “We are keeping a close watch on the development and will take steps as per the situation,” he said.
After restaurants, pubs and schools, wearing of masks has been made mandatory for visitors and passengers at Karnataka’s Kalaburagi Airport premises, a senior official has said. “Wearing mask has been made mandatory at the Kalaburagi Airport. No one without a mask will be allowed to enter the airport premises,” Chilaka Mahesh, Director of Kalaburagi Airport said.
On Monday, in view of rising COVID-19 cases across several countries especially neighbouring China, the Karnataka government held a meeting on COVID preparedness. The meeting was chaired by Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar along with Revenue Minister and State Disaster Management Authority vice-chairman R Ashoka.
Earlier wearing of masks was made compulsory inside restaurants, pubs, theatre halls, schools and colleges in karnataka.
China will eventually publish data on Covid-19 cases once a month when the disease comes under Category B management, an official at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.
China’s management of COVID was downgraded to the less strict Category B from the current top-level Category A, as the disease has become less virulent and will gradually evolve into a common respiratory infection.
Bharat Biotech’s Nasal vaccine is now available on CoWin, priced at Rs 800 for private markets and Rs 325 for governments.
iNCOVACC will be rolled out in the fourth week of January
• iNCOVACC to be rolled out as booster dose for those above 18 years of age.
• iNCOVACC to be priced at INR 325 / dose for large volume procurement by State Governments and Govt of India.
• iNCOVACC is the world’s first Intranasal vaccine for COVID to receive approval for the primary 2-dose schedule, and as a heterologous booster dose.
• Phase III trials (as a 2-dose regimen) were conducted for safety, immunogenicity in ~3100 subjects, in 14 trial sites across India.
• Heterologous booster dose studies were conducted for safety and immunogenicity in ~875 subjects, with BBV154 intranasal vaccine administered in those previously completing a regimen of the commonly administered COVID vaccines. The trials were conducted in 9 trial sites across India.
• iNCOVACC recipients demonstrated significant levels of Mucosal IgA antibody levels (measured in the saliva). Mucosal IgA antibodies in the upper respiratory tract may provide benefit in reducing infections and transmission.
A day after teachers opposed the order and questions were being raised, the Delhi government on Tuesday withdrew its order of deploying government school teachers on Covid-19 duty at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport from December 31 to January 15. The District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) issued the statement withdrawing the earlier announcement.
The authority said if needed, civil defence staff will be deployed at the airport. “In partial modification of Order No. F. No.150/Airport Duty/West/604 dated 16.12.2022 and F. o.150/Airport Duty/West/614 dated 26.12.2022, the teachers/ other teaching staff deployed vide above orders are hereby exempted from Airport Duty for the period 31.12.2022 to 15.01.2023 and the said orders stand amended to that extent. Further, in case required, Civil Defence Volunteers from District West may be deputed on Call out Duty basis,” the statement reads.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya reviewed Covid mock drill at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday and, later, in a tweet, shared a video of the preparations at the facility.
Minister Dr @MansukhMandviya visited Safdarjung Hospital to oversee mock drill, readiness and preparedness to prevent #COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/wBu7BSmrzd
— Office of Dr Mansukh Mandaviya (@OfficeOf_MM) December 27, 2022
Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian visited Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital in Chennai to review Covid mock drill.
Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian visits Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital in Chennai to review Covid Mock drill. pic.twitter.com/HEEduI7l38
— ANI (@ANI) December 27, 2022
In Assam, too, mock drills are underway to check Covid preparedness. Visuals from Gauhati Medical College and Hospital in Guwahati:
Assam | Mock drill, to check covid preparedness, being conducted at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital in Guwahati pic.twitter.com/scZMahsENc
— ANI (@ANI) December 27, 2022
Hospitals in Mumbai are carrying out mock drills as part of the stepped up Covid monitoring measures that have kicked in across the countrya following a surge in cases in several countries, especially China.
The medical facilities in Mumbai that are conducting the mock drill include the civic-run Seven Hills Hospital (having 1,700 beds) and Kasturba Hospital (35 beds), government-run Cama Hospital (100 beds), St George Hospital (70 beds), Tata Hospital (16 beds), and Jagjivan Ram Hospital (12 beds).
China will scrap quarantine measures for overseas arrivals starting January 8, health authorities announced Monday, after nearly three years of strict pandemic border restrictions. The National Health Commission announced the downgraded containment measures for Covid-19 in an online notice, adding that travellers would only need a PCR test taken 48 hours pre-flight to enter China.
The announcement is the latest move by Beijing to loosen its zero-Covid regime, after it abruptly dropped mandatory testing and lockdowns earlier this month.
“According to the national health quarantine law, infectious disease quarantine measures will no longer be taken against inbound travellers and goods,” the National Health Commission (NHC) said. READ MORE HERE
Health facilities across Telangana, too, are conducting Covid mock drills to check covid preparedness. “We are checking our preparedness, if at all, covid cases increase in the state: Superintendent of Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, Supt Raja Rao, said on Tuesday.
Telangana | Mock drill, to check covid preparedness, being conducted at Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad.
We are checking our preparedness, if at all, covid cases increase in the state: Supt Raja Rao pic.twitter.com/9n8fzREbk7
— ANI (@ANI) December 27, 2022
Mandaviya emphasised on the need to be vigilant, highlighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to the people to be alert to keep the virus from spreading again in the country. “To make sure there isn’t a Covid surge in the country, PM Modi has asked us to be careful. The government is also preparing if the Covid cases increase. Today mock drills are conducted across Covid hospitals in the country to make sure people get proper treatment,” Mandaviya said after reviewing the mock drill at the Delhi hospital.
In another major development, the nasal vaccine for Covid was listed on Cowin today and has been priced at Rs 800 for private markets and Rs 325 for central and state governments. The vaccine will be available from the fourth week of January. The nasal vaccine, iNCOVACC, will be rolled out as a booster dose for those above 18 years of age. Made by Bharat Biotech, it is the world’s first intranasal vaccine for Covid to receive approval for the primary two-dose schedule, and as a heterologous booster dose.
India recorded a single-day rise of 157 new Covid-19 cases, while the count of active cases of the disease has marginally decreased to 3,421, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.
In Delhi, the drill took place at the LNJP Hospital and other government-run facilities. Some of the private hospitals are expected to take up the exercise later in the day.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the health portfolio, visited the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital around noon to assess the drill. “The Delhi government is prepared for any kind of emergency. At LNJP, there are 2,000 beds and 450 of them are marked for Covid-19. If a need arises, we can dedicate all 2,000 beds for Covid-19… we can also increase this number by using nearby banquet halls and add an additional 500 beds for Covid-19, so there would be no shortage,” Sisodia told reporters at the hospital.
He also asked people not to panic, saying primary data suggests that the new BF.7 sub-strain of the coronavirus, which is causing a surge in infections in other countries, is similar to previous variants. “Compared to previous times, oxygen availability has increased 10 times, five PSA plants have been set up here. And ventilators are also present. Today, a mock drill was conducted, how patients can be attended to and shifted to desired location within five minutes was observed,” he added.
An official said Covid-19 testing in Delhi is also likely to be ramped up soon. At present, around 2,500 to 3,000 tests are being conducted daily in the city. Delhi has recorded over 2,007,000 Covid cases and 26,521 deaths since the pandemic started in early 2020. The number of daily cases has remained below 20 and the positivity rate below one per cent since mid-November, according to official data.
Several states, meanwhile, have announced their own set of measures in order to keep Covid contained, especially with the New Year’s just days away when people are expected to assemble in large numbers. The Karnataka government on Monday brought back mask mandate and made the use of masks a must at movie theatres and educational institutions in wake of the sudden rise in Covid cases globally. The Karnataka government asked sections of population including the elders to avoid crowded gatherings. The state government also mandated two doses of Covid vaccination at bars, restaurants and pubs, which will operate only up to the seating capacity for the New Year, celebrations for which should end by 1 am on January 1.
In Tamil Nadu, the state government on Monday directed private hospitals and labs across the state to send Covid-positive samples to government lab for whole genomic sequencing (WGS) to monitor existing variants and detect newer variants. Other states and UTs like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra etc., too, have started preps to tackle another possible wave.
Meanwhile, the Congress has charged that the government was using Covid as an excuse to stop the Bharat Jodo Yatra as the long march spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi was gaining momentum every passing day. “We are very much concerned about the health of the people of this country and the Covid situation as well. This entire drama (of Covid spread) is created to stop the Bharat Jodo Yatra,” AICC general secretary KC Venugopal told reporters.
Venugopal said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was attending public meetings and flights were coming in even from China.
“Flights are coming from China, there is no problem. There is no national level (Covid) protocol suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The PM is attending public meetings and all other government programmes are happening everywhere… there is no problem,” he said, adding why was the government only writing letter to Rahul Gandhi while other programmes are going on without any fuss.
“There is a ‘mela’ going on Gujarat, there is no problem with that. We will follow the protocol – recommended by the experts — when it is issued by the government,” he said.
(with agency inputs)
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By: News Desk